Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Christopher A. Pool


This dissertation examines settlement patterns and political and economic organization at the archaeological site of El Mesón, located in the Eastern Lower Papaloapan Basin, in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Monumental art from the site indicated that the primary occupation dated to the Late Formative (400 B.C.-A.D. 1) or Protoclassic period (A.D. 1-300), however aside from a small surface collection of ceramic sherds, the area remained uninvestigated archaeologically. The Recorrido Arqueológico was initiated in 2003 to provide data about the development of settlement in the area around El Mesón, and to examine how the area was organized politically and economically.

The settlement data indicate that over the course of the Formative period El Mesón expanded from a medium sized village to become a secondary center to Tres Zapotes during the Late Formative period. The replication of Tres Zapotes’s civicceremonial architecture in the core of El Mesón indicates its subordinate status to the larger center. Over the course of the Protoclassic period, El Mesón was abandoned and a series of new architectural complexes proliferated in the area until the Late Classic period (A.D. 600-900), settlements in the El Mesón area declined.

In assessing the political organization I focus on how exclusionary strategies that focus of the personal prestige of the leader were combined with corporate strategies that promote group solidarity. I argue that based on the architectural layouts and internal organization of the civic-ceremonial complexes that exclusionary strategies predominated in the area, but corporate strategies were also promoted to reinforce group solidarity among factions.

This work complements ongoing work at Tres Zapotes by providing a perspective on the use of exclusionary and corporate strategies within secondary centers. This work contributes to the study of political systems more broadly by focusing on how different political strategies were integrated within political systems at the regional and local scale.

AppendixB.xls (1573 kB)
AppendixC.xls (748 kB)
AppendixD.xls (78 kB)

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Anthropology Commons